By ANDREW FLYNN, Storyteller
“Yeah, well, don’t expect a callback anytime soon, Ted.”
The Vice President didn’t hang up his phone just yet though. Dumbfounded at the news he had just received, he swung the handset around his arm like a cowboy’s lasso. After a good thirty seconds of this and just staring across the room at nothing, he applied the plastic-molded phone to its base, clicking it in place a few times.
More staring. A few minutes went by, silent and contemplative. With a jolt of life, he fiercely grabbed the entire phone system with both hands, ripped it from the wall in which it was attached, and proceeded to throw the now-tangled mess into his office’s far-side wall. It was a delayed reaction to the conversation he had just finished, but the pot had to boil a little more to get the magma to the surface.
“Son of a bitch!” the now red-faced man said, probably busting a hair plug or two. Even though he had many all over his scalp, so the remaining ones weren’t in scarce company.
The impact of the phone against the wall sent the technology in all directions, very similar to the news that would break later that day and spread like a juicy slice of celebrity gossip. Wires and shards of plastic littered his office floor. Back across the room, the Vice President had regained his composure enough to slump back down in his high-backed leather chair.
While thinking to himself, not a single muscle in his old catcher’s mit of a face was spared from use. Forehead wrinkles came and went, and he then collapsed his hands to his temples as the shiny dress shoes on his feet dragged beneath him. The old man extended his right arm to hit the intercom button. Except there was no button anymore, it existed in the fresh telephonic pile on the other side of his large office. So he whipped out his cell phone, and speed dialed a single digit and pressed the device to his ear.
“Phil, I need you here now.”
“Right away, sir, I’m down the hall now,” his chief of staff said on the other side.
Four soft knocks on the door later, Phil Tulio entered the room quickly and shut the door behind him. He was a man in his late fifties, a short and barrel-chested man of mixed-European decent, giving credibility to his olive skin. A lawyerly combover barely made him five-foot-nine, but it was his mind that the Vice President coveted when he chose him to be his main confidant.
“I don’t suppose you’ve left since last night, sir?” Phil began.
“Fuck no, Philly,” relented the Vice President.
“What is it I can do for you, sir?”
“Nobody can do anything anymore. Cat’s out of the bag. Bread’s baked. The ferry’s left. The screen-door is knocked off the frame.”
“How do you mean?”
“I mean our man Dale leaked a damn message to his kids somewhere near the site. I guess they were in Chicago and he decided to go rogue and lose his shit.”
Tulio glared back at him in disbelief, then threw his hands up in the air.
“You’re not kidding he lost his shit. For him to stray, especially this of all fucking things!”
“And now it’s only a short matter of time before we’re all found out. All this careful planning, all contingencies covered. Goosed.”
“Hold on a minute, sir. Let’s just think here for a bit.”
“The time to think here for a bit has passed.”
Tulio notices the destroyed phone system on the floor to his right as he goes on in verbal combat with his immediate superior.
“Looks like you lost your shit too, sir.”
“Eh, it’s a fucking phone. Three hundred dollars. Supply’ll have a new one here in no time. But right now, the phone isn’t my primary concern. It’s that motherfucker loudmouth.”
“Want me to have him silenced?”
The Vice President got up from his slouched position in his chair, and began pacing towards his chief of staff. He ended up circling around the room in no consistent pattern. Tulio stood in one place, near the center of the office, never looking in his boss’s direction.
“Of course we have to silence him. I’ll dispatch some Black Ops out of Langley to take care of the bastard.”
“They’ll do it quickly, sir. You can be assured of that.”
There was a minute without speech. The thick air would consume anyone else that wasn’t as seasoned as the two current inhabitants of the room. The Vice President sidled up to Tulio, and whispered in his ear, as he looked straight ahead.
“Know something else, Philly?”
“What’s that, sir?”
“I’ve spent my entire career in controversy, and when this gets out, because it will, everything else will seem like tiny raindrops in comparison. Because this is a damn flood from the overflowing river of fire. And in a flood, every motherfucking little thing gets swept away.”
“You’re concerned that the President will get caught up in this too?”
“How can he not!” shouted the Vice President, now pacing feverishly around his office. “It’s his hometown!”
Tulio plopped down on the regal-blue couch next to where he was standing. Nowhere else to put his tired gestating hands, he folded them into his lap.
“Was his hometown,” Tulio smirked.
“Ha, yeah…was,” agreed the Vice President.
“In all truth, I’m actually kind of surprised the whole plan came to fruition, or at least to this point, without a leak at all. Considering what we did plan, mind you.”
“The minute after I just got off the phone with our friend across town, I thought the same thing.”
“Makes you think about the larger picture, about the reason…about them.”
“It’s weird, Philly, it really is. I can remember that night in Grant Park about two-and-a-half years ago. This country was in such a different place. And then the next day, they were there.”
“I know, sir. It’s something I don’t think any of us could even try to forget. They single-handedly changed the course of this country’s history forever.”
“They just came in, seemingly out of nowhere, and thrust us all in this tangent of events that had not a gleam of possibility in God’s twinkling eye even the minute before. But it was all entirely necessary.”
I suppose that means we’re going to meet with them, now that Dale has done what he’s done.”
The Vice President was back at his desk by now, and reached into his upper-left desk drawer. His liver-spotted hand gripped a Glock 25 pistol and brought it to the front of Tulio’s attention.
“We aren’t going to be doing that. I will, Philly.”
The Vice President squeezed off two rounds in succession. A terrific shot, both .38-caliber bullets struck Tulio in the chest, dropping him faster than a bad habit. The floor being his final destination, Phil didn’t get in a single breath more after eating the hot lead.
The Vice President got up, and buttoned his suit jacket. He walked over to the door where Tulio came in from.